Everyday items that could be affecting your fertility

Joanne Lia
Joanne Lia
Joanne is a qualified Building Biologist and certified Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) consultant who specialises in creating healthy indoor environments. As well as conducting healthy home and office audits, Jo conducts pre-lease and pre-purchase audits for homebuyers. This mother of three’s passion lies in creating safe spaces for kids to grow and learn. In 2015 she...
Created on Oct 20, 2023 · 5 mins read

When you’re trying to have a baby there are so many things you start doing, and a few that you usually stop too. However, there are also some very common everyday items that you probably didn’t realise could also be hindering your chances of falling pregnant and impacting your reproductive health.

Kiindred’s healthy home expert, Joanne Lia from NoToxRox shares a number of everyday items many of us use without realising they often contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), PFAs, phthalates that can could have health risks for both male and female fertility.

1. Lube

Did you ever consider that the lubricant you’re using could be sabotaging your chances of falling pregnant?

Couples who are trying to conceive are well aware that timing is everything. That’s a totally normal thing. There is a very narrow fertile window. Combine this with the everyday stresses of life, and sex can sometimes seem more mechanical than fun. Vaginal dryness is a common complaint among women trying to conceive especially if they’re taking fertility drugs. Lubrication is often needed to make sex more pleasurable but not all lubricants are created equal.

Research shows that many lubes on the market today have a negative effect on sperm motility – the ability of the sperm to swim in the right direction. Some lubes increase DNA damage to the sperm. Other studies have shown evidence that certain lubes affect sperm vitality – killing most of the sperm. That’s not all, even natural products such as olive or coconut oil can impact a man’s swimmers. Most surprising of all, one study actually showed saliva as the greatest inhibitor to sperm motility.

So, what does this mean? Most of the studies are done on animals or in a Petri dish so in a real-life situation using any Lube is probably not a huge factor in whether you’ll conceive or not but for couples facing challenges such as low sperm count or poor sperm quality then choosing a fertility-friendly lube is important. Have the conversation with your partner to see how you could make changes. It’s just an extra step you can take to avoid fertility problems during sex.

Here is a list of what you don’t want in a lubricant:

• Petroleum Jelly – no Vaseline
• Silicone
• Glycerine
• Parabens
• Propylene Glyco
• No Spermicides-nonoxynol 9-N9
• Antibacterials
• Benzocaine

The safest, nontoxic lubricants should also have a neutral PH, around 7.

2. Feminine Hygiene Products

The vagina is like a self-cleaning oven, it requires very little maintenance. Despite that, many women use douches, wipes, sprays or powders in their cleaning regime believing this helps their personal hygiene. Using these products actually puts you at risk of bacterial and yeast infections. The other problem with these products is they contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs interfere with our hormone signalling pathways. The vagina and vulva rapidly absorbed chemicals without metabolising them. This is not an area you want to be exposed to EDCs. So it’s best for your sexual health to give these a miss.

Tampons and pads

Ordinary tampons are made from a blend of synthetic nylon and cotton. They are dyed with chlorine to make them white and often have fragrance added. Fragrance contains hormone-disrupting phthalates and chlorine can produce dioxin which is a carcinogen. Cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, so your tampons and pads will expose you to high levels of pesticides and GMOs. Pesticides are also hormone disruptors. So, it is best to avoid non-organic tampons altogether but especially when TTC.

Organic cotton pads and tampons are a much better option if you want to reduce your chemical exposure. There are many brands to choose from. Menstrual cups are a popular alternative too. It’s a good step to supporting a healthy pregnancy and looking after your reproductive health.

Period underwear

Period Undies are the new kid on the block and are loved by women, but the jury is out on these at the moment. The bad news is some brands of undies were tested and showed evidence of have high levels of PFAS and other chemicals. PFAS are often called ‘forever chemicals’ because they enter the environment and never leave. They also enter our bodies and stay for decades. Exposure to these chemicals cause reproductive problems, birth defects and a rap sheet of other problems. Now, not all brands of period undies were tested and not all of the brands tested contained PFAS but there were other chemicals found that haven’t been widely studied so period undies are best avoided for now, especially if you’re trying to get pregnant or support fertility.

3. Sex Toys

I don’t want to be unpopular, but your dildo might not be very fertility-friendly. It really depends on what it’s made from, which unfortunately in most cases, is really hard to know for sure. The market is flooded with cheap, single-use sex toys that can be not only dangerous, but have evidence that they’re toxic.

Avoid cheap, novelty sex toys and opt for good quality silicone, hard metal, glass or wood. Avoid any porous material which is difficult to clean leaving you susceptible to STDs, bacterial or fungal infections.

Do vibrators cause infertility in females?

If your vibrator or dildo is made from PVC or soft jelly rubber, then it’s best to put it aside. These soft plastics contain phthalates which as stated earlier are hormone disruptors. Evidence shows that they affect human reproduction and the normal development of baby boys in pregnancy. Reducing exposure to phthalates when trying to conceive and during gestation can have a significant impact on a woman and is one of many factors that helps to maximise her fertility and ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Can using a vibrator affect implantation?

Other than dodging phthalates, and making sure that you’re cleaning your vibrator properly, there isn’t much scientific evidence that using a vibrator can affect pregnancy or female fertility, or even your overall sexual health. In fact, there’s some proof that having an orgasm can have positive effects on fertility by increasing blood flow, supporting pelvic floor muscles and a few other factors. So it’s pretty normal and low risk. Just make sure that whatever “get’s you going” is made from good quality materials, and then you won’t have to worry. Xenoestrogens and EDCs: What are they and how to avoid them?

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